Dissertation Reference List Gender Distribution
While preparing for my dissertation defense, I broke down my dissertation reference list to get a rough idea of gender distribution.
Total reference count by article/book: 323
Article/book authored by one or more women: 62
Article/book authored by one or more men: 229
Article/book authored by both men/women: 23
Article/book authored by neither man/woman: 9
The above numbers included all references and don’t condense down for multiple works by a single author (for example, I have 15 different references in the list that are just different papers and books of John Rawls). To see how different things looked at the individual author level, I quickly did a count per author, counting an author only once.
Total number of authors cited: 306
Total number of women authors: 83
Total number of men authors: 217
Of course, I went off my own assumptions as to an author’s gender identity (based on first name and quick and dirty Google searches for profiles) and this may not accurately capture an author’s stated gender identity in all cases. Also, the reference list included two articles that I co-authored and, even though these were published under “Anthony Hoffmann,” I included myself as a woman in the above tallies.
Regardless, even if this is an rough approximation of gender distribution as the authors themselves would identify, it’s still pretty disheartening on the surface. There are some contextual considerations that, I think, explain things:
– Most of the women I cite are actually from political philosophy, which might on the surface seem surprising but is less so in light of the fact that a not insignificant part of my dissertation is dedicated to covering feminist, capabilities, disabilities and other critiques of Rawls/liberalism (lots of O’Neill, Okin, Nussbaum, etc…) – many of which are leveled by women. Some of the other women I rely on come from related discussions of dignity and self-respect (Telfer, Dillon, Moody-Adams, etc…). But, of course, for every woman I cite in these areas, I probably cite a man, too (with regard to the former, Sen, Doppelt, Kymlicka, various Cohens, etc…; with regard to the latter, Darwall, Boxill, etc…). So it sort of ends up a wash, I guess?
– Outside of that domain, most of the rest of the women come from the values-conscious design (VID, VAP, CTP, etc…) and STS/infrastructure studies side of things.
– The tally of men ticked up real fast during the parts of the dissertation dedicated to talking about technology and society from a philosophy of technology perspective (think Mumford, Ellul, Winner, Latour, Feinberg, etc…).
– Also, one chapter of the dissertation is dedicated to reviewing applications of Rawls to information and technology issues across more than 150 articles. The overwhelming majority of these applications were written by men, so that accounts for a lot of the above. Also, interestingly, one of my findings was that when Rawls is applied, critiques of Rawls from other domains are unevenly imported over to info/tech issues, too – lots of communitarian and capabilities talk, but relatively little feminist and disabilities discussions (save for where these overlap, say, with the capabilities approach), discussions which generally feature more women. (There are of course many different reasons for this, not the least of which being that native feminist and disabilities assessments of information and technology abound without one having to take a detour through debates in liberal political philosophy. But, nonetheless, insofar as Rawlsian ideas are being applied, various camps of critique are being appealed to in uneven ways.) Plus, there have been a couple of men that have been relatively “big” proponents of Rawls in info/tech contexts – Brey and van den Hoven, for example – and they account for a couple dozen citations alone.
– There are a handful of articles from computer science that use Rawls’ difference principle as a normative model for how to distribute resources within a computer network. Some of those articles are, as is common in computer science, authored by teams of anywhere from 4-6 men. That also helped tick things up in the “men” column real fast, especially in the “by author” tally.
– The discussions of privacy and technology are about an even split (Westin, Reiman, Solove, etc… vs Regan, Nissenbaum, Allen, etc…).
For what it is worth, the most frequently cited man in the dissertation is Rawls, while the most cited woman is a four-way tie between Onora O’Neill, Martha Nussbaum, Iris Marion Young, and Susan Leigh Star. And if I did my job right, that should leave many of you wondering, “what on Earth is her dissertation about, anyway?” 🙂
29 Apr 2014 / Anna Lauren